The Food Shuttle Story

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In 1989, co-founders Jill Staton Bullard & Maxine Solomon watched as fast-food breakfast sandwiches were thrown away simply because the clock had moved from “breakfast time” to “lunch time.” They knew the need was out there and had to take action. Eleven sandwiches were delivered to Shepherd's table that same day, providing nourishment to 44 patrons.

There was a desperate need for food for the hungry in our community, and the Food Shuttle was in the vanguard—re-purposing edible and nutritious food that was discarded daily from local restaurants & groceries. Year after year, the Food Shuttle has recovered more and more food. From 750 pounds that first year to over 6 million pounds last year. Now 35% of all recovered food is fresh produce.

Emergency food provision is not enough to end hunger in our communities. In addition to food, people need nourishment, economic access, and job skills. Culinary classes, mobile markets, nutrition education and community gardens all sprang from this understanding.

In 1998, the Culinary Job Training Program was established with a two-fold goal: to break the cycle of poverty by providing professional skills to adults in need of a living wage; and to provide fresh, healthy prepared foods to partner soup kitchens and shelters. Fresh recovered food is stabilized through cooking and blast-freezing, at the same time that individuals and families are stabilized with employment opportunities and marketable skills.

Before “food desert” was a popular term, the Food Shuttle was delivering nutritious food directly into the hands of those who needed it most, through distribution points in low-income neighborhoods, schools, housing-authority developments, churches, and community centers.

Low-income neighbors forced to eat cheaply from the offerings available at corner mini-marts have diets abundant in fats, sodium, and processed sugars. As convenience foods replaced cooking, skills and understanding of foundational nutrition were lost. The Food Shuttle formed nutrition classes to provide people with the knowledge to take back control of their food choices—how to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a limited budget.

We were poor, but we never knew it, because everybody had gardens and everybody ‘put up’ food and shared.”
— NC Senator Vernon Malone

Community gardening was another way to empower people with skills, knowledge, and access to the freshest, most nutritious foods possible. Teaching gardens in Raleigh and Durham act as hubs connecting neighbors, small businesses, and local nonprofits around fresh local foods. A teaching farm offers garden plots to refugee immigrants hungry for their traditional foodways.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s culture of innovation and transformation was not lost upon Jill’s retirement in 2016, but was rather opened up to new influences and new ideas—bolstering and extending programs to those in need across our seven-county service area. The mission continues to fight hunger and build food systems that work for every member of this community. Join us.